Johannesburg: Former skipper John Terry ended up in danger of being left alone as Fabio Capello reasserted total control over the England team after successfully repelling a planned challenge to his power by discontented players at a team meeting held on Sunday night.
Most of the senior team members responded with shock to Terry’s move of going public with their demand for a clear-the-air meet with Capello.
According to sources, Terry was ultimately convinced against voicing his opinion at the meeting by a member of the coaching staff.
Earlier, there was a whiff of rebellion in the air at England`s World Cup training camp on Sunday as Fabio Capello`s disgruntled squad prepared to face Slovenia in a match that will make or break their campaign in South Africa.
Former skipper John Terry insisted the players were united in support of Capello but the tone and content of some of his comments sounded far closer to a rallying call for a mutiny against the Italian`s regime.
Asked about his Chelsea team-mate Nicolas Anelka being sent home by France, Terry joked: "I see Nico was sent home for voicing his opinion and maybe a few of us will be sent home after this evening."
The centreback added: "If we feel something has to change, we owe it to the country and the manager to say it in that meeting tonight. If it upsets him or any other player, so what."
England go into Wednesday`s meeting with Slovenia in Port Elizabeth needing a win to be sure of advancing to the knockout stage of the competition after a 1-1 draw with the United States and a goalless draw with Algeria that Terry described as "unacceptable".
While dismissing reports of disharmony in the camp, Terry made it clear he had several issues he wanted to get off his chest in a manner which suggests that, despite having been stripped of the captaincy by Capello in February, he remains the dominant personality in England`s dressing room.
"I really think, sod it!" he said. "One game can make or break our tournament. I`ve spent three or four weeks away from my wife and kids. I`ve come here to win this tournament and I don`t want to go home on Wednesday."
Capello has been widely criticised for failing to give Joe Cole even a few minutes of action in the first two matches.
That was reported to be one of the issues concerning England`s senior players and Terry`s effusive assessment of what his Chelsea team-mate offers suggests those reports are accurate.
"Joe coming back from injury was a great boost for us at Chelsea and he got a goal for us at Man Utd that was vital," Terry said. "Him and Wayne are the only two players that can really open up teams and break down defences. If called upon he will do a great job."
Terry also confirmed the players were finding it hard to deal with the tedium of being cloistered in their rooms for long hours.
"I`m not going to lie," he said. "We are finished lunch and then a bit of boredom kicks in in the six or seven hours to dinner."
Under previous managers, England players enjoyed greater freedom to go out and about once training was over, as well as being able to spend more time with their families.
That option is restricted here by both security concerns and Capello`s reluctance to have the glamorous posse of wives and girlfriends (WAGS) of the players following the squad around as they did in Germany four years ago.
Terry insisted that he had no issue with Capello`s methods, which include a much-criticised policy of keeping the players` waiting until two hours before the game before letting them know who is playing.
"He has his ways and his philosophies," Terry added. "They worked in the qualifying campaign, so I don`t think we should be looking for excuses or criticising the manager."
No sooner than he`d said that however, Terry was joining goalkeeper David James in disputing Capello`s assertion that England`s players had been paralysed by fear in the match against Algeria.
"At any level there is naturally a little bit of nerves. But once you step over the white line it is totally gone."
Terry added: "As a group of players we go out there with instructions from the manager but once we are out there it is down to us to do what we are told to do and we didn`t do that the other night."
Terry said Capello and England`s fans had been right to accuse the players of a lack of passion in the Algeria match.
"I don`t think any player had that the other night. I`m sure on Wednesday, everyone will have the fire in their bellies."